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Ambulance Services

Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 6 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what care can be provided by an ambulance paramedic that cannot be provided by an ambulance technician. (140536)

An emergency medical technician (EMT) will have a sound knowledge of the basic concepts of patient care, having completed a training programme, worked under supervision for a probationary year, and achieved the national EMT award.

EMTs are able to make a provisional diagnosis, use their knowledge and skills to identify and differentiate between life-threatening and non-life threatening conditions, and be able to interpret and record baseline observations and gain a basic individual, familial and social history of a patient during an assessment of the patient's needs. From this they can determine the extent of patients' illness or injury and initiate treatment, based on the principles of the current national clinical guidelines, in an attempt to stabilise the condition. This will include the use of, amongst other things, airway adjuncts, defibrillation, basic analgesic and oxygen therapies, and administration of a number of medicines.

The precise difference in care that can be provided by a paramedic compared to an EMT will vary between national health service ambulance trusts as it will depend on the patient group directives in use by each trust for paramedics, and any additional training that the employer may have given their paramedics or EMTs over and above the national qualifications. However the core differences between the two roles are that:

paramedics are registered health professionals and are therefore required to maintain a portfolio of continual professional development;

paramedics can conduct a more thorough and detailed physical examination of the patient;

paramedics undertake invasive procedures and are able to give intra-muscular and sub-cutaneous injections, and external jugular vein cannulation; and

paramedics are able to practice in accordance with current legislation governing the use of prescription-only medicines and controlled drugs by paramedics.

Paramedic skills, over and above those also possessed by EMTs, are only used in a minority of cases.

Further information on the standards of proficiency required of paramedics can be obtained from The Health Professions Council's Standards of Proficiency for Paramedics which is available at:

In addition, the British Paramedic Association's Curriculum Framework for Ambulance Education provides details of EMT and paramedic education. This is available at: